Twelve years ago tomorrow, I felt like someone had attached a vice to my lower back and was crushing my will to live. Apparently, they call this “back labor.”
My firstborn was prepping to make his debut. Jeff took the day off work. He listened to me moan and groan. He rented me seven videos from Blockbuster (ha!), none of which we watched. My sister stopped by to visit and remembers me barking at her for leaving a glass in the sink after getting a drink. Laboring women are such a drag.
After infinite hours of the back vice, we left for the hospital and found that all the pregnant women everywhere had also decided to show up at that very moment to deliver their babies.
Dutch’s famous quote of that evening (he turned and said this to me in a stressed-out huff as we walked into labor and delivery; I was walking slowly and breathing deeply through a contraction): “Hurry up! You can do that when we get inside.”
A few dicey hours later our strawberry-blonde boy arrived.
Here are a few things I did not know about Henry on that Eve of Thanksgiving when he was first born, and swaddled in the shape of a kidney bean:
* that he would spend his preschool years with the preferred name of “Mr. Horse.”
* that he would coin much of our family’s lexicon with his exuberant sayings. (“When I say ‘Grandma’s house,’ you say ‘yay!’). When it’s cold we wear glubs. For breakfast we eat mawffles. When our arms are full, we have “too many hands,” and when something ends “it’s ozer.”
* that he would be a source of So Much Fun in our family. He’s the little-brother-magnet, the instigator of hide & seek, the organizer of walks to the ice cream shop.
* that every night he craves popcorn, and he has a major affinity for Dunford chocolate doughnuts.
* that he would be sporty and athletic, even though his parents are not.
* that he would be kind and empathetic to his younger brothers with disabilities; that he would treat people who are different with kindness.
* that he would be at my side through great difficulty. Many times when Jeff has been at work and I’ve been in the swampy hinterlands of raising children with behavioral problems, communication problems, and potty-training problems, Henry has stood by me.
* that he would be wise beyond his years in understanding what it means to care for someone who can’t care for themselves.
* that he would be a special helper in our family.
* that he would go before his brothers, being an example of “what boys should do.”
It’s a milestone birthday for my eldest son. I felt grateful that Thanksgiving Eve of his birth; but I am more grateful now.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Horse.